The ability to evoke an emotional response is something both visual art and music have in common. Artists and musicians create works that evoke emotion and change mood, evoke memories, and provide comfort and inspiration. Visual art and music have many parallels because they share aspects such as harmony, balance, rhythm, and repetition.
The relationship between art and music is explored through 22 works by 15 artists in the current exhibition at the Oak Park Art League (OPAL), Intersection: Art & Music. This exhibition focuses not on the obvious clichés commonly associated with music, such as the pop culture component or deference to well-known recording artists, but rather on how music affects not only individuals but also society.
The guitar has played a major role in popular music over the past 65 years, and two works in this event give us two contrasting perspectives on this instrument. Jeff Anderson pays tribute to the guitar legends of rock music by building the body of an electric guitar out of mixed media in Music is Love. Viewers can feel the raw power of an electric guitar by simply making a stripped-down version of the body without neck or strings. In contrast, Bryan Gammage’s Shanti features a woman sitting with an acoustic guitar in a pastoral scene, suggesting a rare unity that only musicians can experience with their instrument.
In recent decades, many bands have created legendary album covers, including Abbey Road by the Beatles, Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen, and Nevermind by Nirvana. Some of the artwork in this exhibit could easily be used as album covers. Because of its 12″ x 12″ size, Jeff Jenkins’ Phalanges Remix is a great illustration. Jenkins’ use of muted hues and textures and a cryptic image of a skeletal figure would best fit an electronic or prog rock record. Other works that could be used as album covers include Laveta Kirby’s surreal-looking Redwings Moon, which seems appropriate for a Pink Floyd record, and John Padour’s Jitterbug, which depicts a decaying road sign in a rural scene.
The ethereal element of music is also reflected in some of the paintings on display. Susan Wolfe’s pieces Into the Night and The Voices I Hear are both bright due to their use of color. When viewing Wolfe’s art, one is reminded of synesthesia, a condition in which some people see colors and patterns when listening to music. Pamela Penney’s work Crescendo, Rests, and Staccatos gives the impression of a graph measuring the frequency of sound waves. And Lois Stone uses pastel tones and bold brushstrokes to create an abstract image of a clef and musical notes that seem to float in the ether, waiting to be recorded by a composer on a sheet of music.
In this exhibition, two works show how art and music can be used to address social justice issues. Deborah Peacock Stoklosa’s College Instant Karma juxtaposes lighthearted imagery with human rights issues to create a harrowing juxtaposition. Pete Seeger’s minimalist sketch of Joe Fournier is a gestural piece depicting the emotional impact he had on his audience as he sang about social change.
The strength of this exhibition is that it allows us to witness the harmonious interplay between music and art. The influence of one medium on the other is evident in the synergy between these two art forms.
“I want visitors to see how each work has its own voice, communicating with each other while working together like a symphony,” said Jeff Jenkins, gallery manager for the exhibition.
The Intersection: Art & Music exhibition is on view through Aug. 26. The exhibit is now open to the public, with an opening reception on Friday, Aug. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. The Oak Park Art League is located in Oak Park at 720 Chicago Ave. Tuesday through Friday, 1-5 p.m.; Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Admission is completely free.